Synopses & Reviews
In this delightful sequel to her bestseller Tender at the Bone, Ruth Reichl returns with more tales of love, life, and marvelous meals. Comfort Me with Apples picks up Reichl’s story in 1978, when she puts down her chef’s toque and embarks on a career as a restaurant critic. Her pursuit of good food and good company leads her to New York and China, France and Los Angeles, and her stories of cooking and dining with world-famous chefs range from the madcap to the sublime. Through it all, Reichl makes each and every course a hilarious and instructive occasion for novices and experts alike. She shares some of her favorite recipes while also sharing the intimacies of her personal life in a style so honest and warm that readers will feel they are enjoying a conversation over a meal with a friend.
Picking up where "Tender at the Bone" leaves off, "Comfort Me with Apples" recounts Reichl's transformation from chef to food writer, a process that led her through restaurants from Bangkok to Paris to Los Angeles and brought lessons in life, love, and food.
About the Author
Ruth Reichl is the editor in chief of Gourmet and the author of the bestselling Tender at the Bone, a James Beard Award finalist. She has been the restaurant critic at The New York Times and the food editor and restaurant critic as the Los Angeles Times. Reichl lives in New York City.
Reading Group Guide
1. When Ruth Reichl tells her housemates that she is going to become a restaurant critic, her roommate Nick responds, “Youre going to spend your life telling spoiled, rich people where to eat too much obscene food?” Discuss Reichls transition from chef to critic and the effect it has on her lifestyle. To what degree is Nicks response a reflection of the era (the 1970s)? Thirty years later, does your reaction differ from Nicks?
2. Reichl is known for her restaurant reviews and other food writing. In Comfort Me with Apples, do you find her writing about food to be straightforward? Consider her use of metaphor (eggs that taste like sunshine, raspberries like spring) to describe food. Do you find this to be an effective means of conveying her sensations to the reader?
3. How is Reichls background in journalism reflected in her prose style in this book?
4. Reichl has said that Comfort Me with Apples is about women and work. Throughout her personal ups and downs, she always returns to work as a source of solace, continuity, and fulfillment. Consider her trip to Barcleona after she has had to return her adopted daughter to the girls birth parents. How does the trip console her, and how is she different upon her return?
5. Reichl includes recipes at the end of each chapter, recipes that each signify a specific event in her life and relate to an event in the book. In Comfort Me with Apples, cooking is often therapeutic. Think of your own relationship with food and cooking. Are there particular meals that, for you, elicit memories or strong emotional responses?
6. Ruth Reichls first memoir, Tender at the Bone, dealt to a great extent with her often difficult relationship with her mother. How does their relationship evolve and change in Comfort Me with Apples? Consider the relationships that dominate her life in this book, including those that intersect with her relationship with her mother, and how they reflect on Reichls life and character.
7. The author has called Comfort Me with Apples “a love story.” What is the nature of this love story? Think of the ways in which love pervades the booklove of food, friends, lovers, spouses, chidren, and
8. In an interview, Reichl has said, “I believe privacy is overrated. I did hold back when I thought what I was writing would be hurtful for someone else, but I believe that the biggest hope for mankind is for us to learn to know each other, to tell each other the truth.” Consider the responsibilities an author has in writing an autobiography. What decisions has Reichl made in shaping her own story, and what effect do they have on the readers perceptions of her and the other people she features in her book? Is it ever possible to preserve the objective truth (if there is such a thing) in writing a memoir?